Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Pike Low bowl barrow and site of beacon, Bonfire Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Briercliffe, Lancashire

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Latitude: 53.8042 / 53°48'15"N

Longitude: -2.1618 / 2°9'42"W

OS Eastings: 389441.733674

OS Northings: 434226.815132

OS Grid: SD894342

Mapcode National: GBR FSBG.S1

Mapcode Global: WHB7Y.RMSZ

Entry Name: Pike Low bowl barrow and site of beacon, Bonfire Hill

Scheduled Date: 12 November 1928

Last Amended: 21 September 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008917

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23720

County: Lancashire

Civil Parish: Briercliffe

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lancashire


The monument includes Pike Low Bronze Age bowl barrow and the site of a later
beacon. It is located on the summit of Bonfire Hill and commands extensive
views of east Lancashire in all directions except the east. The barrow
includes a slightly oval mound of earth and stones up to 0.6m high with
maximum dimensions of 15m east-west by 13m north-south. It has been partly
mutilated on its northern side by an adjacent quarry, and on its summit where
it has been flattened to accommodate the bonfire for the beacon from which the
name Bonfire Hill originates.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Bowl barrows, the most numerous form of round barrow, are funerary monuments
dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age, with most
examples belonging to the period 2400-1500 BC. They were constructed as
earthen or rubble mounds, sometimes ditched, which covered single or multiple
burials. They occur either in isolation or grouped as cemeteries and often
acted as a focus for burials in later periods. Often superficially similar,
although differing widely in size, they exhibit regional variations in form
and a diversity of burial practices. There are over 10,000 surviving bowl
barrows recorded nationally (many more have already been destroyed), occurring
across most of lowland Britain. Often occupying prominent locations, they are
a major historic element in the modern landscape and their considerable
variation of form and longevity as a monument type provide important
information on the diversity of beliefs and social organisations amongst early
prehistoric communities. They are particularly representative of their period
and a substantial proportion of surviving examples are considered worthy of

Despite partial mutilation of the extreme northern edge of the monument by
quarrying and its use as the site of a beacon, Pike Low bowl barrow survives
reasonably well. It is not known to have been excavated and will therefore
retain undisturbed archaeological deposits within the mound and upon the old
landsurface beneath. It is a rare example of the site of a barrow being
utilised from medieval times on as a beacon. This latter use was for defence
and the beacon gave warning of the approach of hostile forces and also
functioned as a signal to muster forces. It is one of the earliest types of
beacons, being little more than a bonfire set on the ground, and would have
formed part of a group, chain, or line of beacons. It will facilitate any
further study of the beacon system of warning and defence employed in this
area of north west England.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
'Trans Hist Soc Lancs & Chesh' in Trans Hist Soc Lancs and Chesh, , Vol. 9, (1856), 34
Darvill, T, MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Bowl Barrows, (1989)
Leach,P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Beacons, (1989)

Source: Historic England

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